Monday, March 27, 2023

Discover Why One Of The Wealthiest Black Areas Prince George’s County Is Challenged As The Promised Land

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By Op-Ed Contributor Tolson Banner

A recent article in the Greater Washington publication proclaimed Prince Georges’ County may be losing its status as the Black Promised Land. Spoiler alert: According to the latest Census data Charles County now owns that title.

But what does it mean to be the wealthiest Black county in these United States?  And more importantly how do we measure when we have arrived at this place we call “the land of milk and honey” or “cabin in the sky?” 

The ancestor legend Bob Marley crooned the answer this way, “If you know what life is worth you will look for yours on earth”.  Maybe that’s why this article examined black homeownership (not black land ownership?) as being the hub in the wheel with health, schools, economic development, racism, and crime as spokes not necessarily correlating an index of self-reliance for us to address poverty, homelessness, mental health, food apartheid and the inability for us to feed and clothe ourselves in a state where Black farmers exceed the national average.   

From a historical point of view, our first collective definition of the Black Promised Land emerged with the abolition of the American enslavement trade in tandem with hope and promise following the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Forty Acres and a Mule was ominously dangled before us like a carrot on a stick – always just beyond our reach.

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Article On Tolson Banner's Black Promised Land Continues Below...

If hope springs eternal, Blacks found a new definition for the Black Promised Land in the great “push and pull migration” from the south during the early part of the 19th century. One noted famed Black historian described it as, “the lazy laughing south with blood on her mouth and I who am Black would love her…but she spits in my face so now I seek the north, the cold-face north for she – they say - is a kinder mistress.”
Faced with the harsh realities of a “not so kinder mistress” in the north, Blacks quickly redefined the Black Promised Land to mean voting and civil rights, human rights, as well as excelling in education and the trades.  These elements became the de facto definition.

The fruits of our labor began to show promise led by a spirit born out of the First African Baptist Church and accelerated by many self-help organizations, Black Greek fraternities/sororities and Black entrepreneurs.  All armed with a  keen sense for communal development coupled with empowerment.

We have seen this empowerment translated in the state of Maryland by electing its first black governor, Wes Moore, in addition to Prince George’s County electing its first Black female County Executive, Angela Alsobrooks.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (Left) County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (Right) 

With a $5.4 billion budget for one million County residents, Madame County Executive Alsobrooks laid bare the facts about the County’s economic health during her budget address.  With a spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down, she reminded us before we could do anything in our County 83% was already earmarked for schools and public safety – mandated by state law.
So we swallowed this bittersweet pill as she broke down her budget:  Alsobrooks highlighted the economic development explosion around the Blue Line Transit Oriented District; she also put money in her budget to showcase her commitment for affordable housing; Alsobrooks outlined and delivered on her promise to combat health issues that disproportionately affect Black people with line items in her budget to tackle these maladies as demonstrated by new Behavioral Health Services and Cancer Centers. 

Not to be outdone, our County Council who goes by the name of the People’s Council, have introduced a bill for guaranteed income along with legislation to address soaring rent increases, tax breaks for seniors, curtail the proliferation of tobacco stores and unhealthy food options, and instituting greater transparency and accountability, just to name a few. Moreover, on the heels of a post pandemic with rising crime rates and gun violence, At-Large Councilmember Calvin Hawkins, asked us to pause for A Day of Empathy to allow us to begin to heal as our County government administers a new sense of esprit de corp.    

But these positive indicators cited above gives us pause for hope as we recommit ourselves to practice group economics, leave no child behind, employ the “multiplier effect” with our contract and procurement dollars, and shift our over burdened residential tax base to commercial.   We should be building Black Promised Lands wherever we find ourselves - in spite of Charles County - where we can walk around heaven all day.  Somebody puh-leeze pass the milk and honey!

About The Author:
Tolson Banner, is CEO of, the nation’s premier Black entertainment music streaming network. Banner is a graduate of Clark Atlanta and Howard Universities where he received degrees in Broadcast Journalism and a Master’s in Business Administration, respectively.  Please write your comments to Tolson at the bottom of this web page. 

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Posted by community events coordinator, Nzinga Lonstein Austin, is a prolific blogger who writes on the entertainment industry and issues for people with developmental and physical challenges.

She is presently in high school looking to have a career in video, film, and media. You can see more of her entertainment writing on Lonstein Movies.

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